So you’ve noticed that the unplanned, disorganized days are causing strife and your toddlers are running amok around your house.
You wake up feeling rushed, in over your head, and as your hubby walks out the front door, you aren’t sure if hyperventilating in front of him was the best idea!
You need a routine and I am here to help!
Routine is not something unfamiliar to the Brucks’. After years of toddlers in our home I have learned that they were designed to work best within predictable parameters.
We were raised on routine in school and in many of our own homes. God designed us with organization and routine in our DNA.
God created the world in a particular order and the world runs on that schedule. Four seasons, one after the other, like clockwork. The sun rises and the sun sets each and every day! Sure, there is variation within that order, but overall, it sticks to a basic plan.
If you’re panicking over the idea of a routine, don’t worry, a routine doesn’t need to worry you!
You are in control of that routine, but you also need to find the natural rhythm of your family first in order to make it work!
If your toddlers are used to sleeping in till 8 every morning, don’t create a schedule that insists they wake up at 6 am! You will only have cranky toddlers by 9 in the morning and a mama who is burnt out.
I warn you, I am a teacher at heart and I LOVE schedules. I make and remake schedules constantly. But that’s my personality quirk and the Brucks’ routines don’t work for everyone.
By simply looking at who you are, being true to yourself, and working with your family, you can come up with a routine that gives you a sense of order in the chaos of toddlerhood.
Here are 7 steps to get you creating a schedule that actually works for your family!
1.First decide if you want a general schedule, or a very detailed schedule.
Here is an example of a general schedule. Notice there is craft time, but no specific craft mentioned.
Feel Free To Print and Use! Toddler Schedule
2. Spend a week writing down and noting how your family ebbs and flows.
For example, record the wake up times of your kids. Watch what time of day they begin to get cranky and whiny. Then ask yourself, are they hungry, tired or needing attention? Try feeding them, if they eat, then write that time down as a great time for snacks.
If they don’t eat, try playing with them with undivided attention. If they are happy and easy to play with, write the time down as playtime with mommy.
If they are still whiny after you’ve tried both of these, it’s most likely their bodies natural rhythm asking for rest! (Note whether they slept well that night too, this affects whether they will need an early nap, or a later one.)
3. Your to do list.
Some of us work from home. Some of us have hobbies or volunteer activities we need to accomplish. Keep these in mind when writing this list, its not just the chores.
Write out the different tasks you typically want to accomplish each day. Then slash that list in half. You have toddlers…your to do list should simply be “keep them alive!”, haha. In all seriousness though, cut it down a bit as we moms tend to think we can do way more then is possible. Add the time of day that you need to accomplish these tasks by and see where they fit with your toddlers natural rhythms. That way, as you create the schedule, you will see where you have room to move your tasks around and add a few extra tasks from the other half of your list.
4. Your natural rhythm.
When are you hungry? When are you tired? When do you have the most energy. Write down the times for these things, and work them into the schedule. You don’t have to eat lunch with the kids, but make sure you do schedule lunch for yourself. I typically eat before my kids, so that I can tend to their needs during the meal (and clean a bit as well).
5. Leave room for spontaneity.
You can schedule all you want, but life isn’t static, so have hours in the day called “Mommy playtime” or “Free Time”. This allows you to have enough space for the extra ups and downs of life.
A great example is when a child begs you to take them to the park and you know you have 18 loads of laundry to finish. You can look at the schedule and see where you can shift activities to make it work!
6. Try it out.
Set up a temporary schedule, try it out for a week. Keep notice of what works and what doesn’t. Be ready to change and rearrange as you need. I typically have to completely revamp our schedule a few times before we settle on it, and then every 4-5 months as the kids grow and change and we add activities to our lives.
You did it! You now have order and stability in your lives and although it will never be perfect, you now have something to work with and something to look forward to each day!
Here’s an example of what one of our schedules looks like! We have four children, ages 5, 4, 3, and 1.5. I like lots of detail so my schedules tend to become more complex as the year progresses. We have to work in Kindergarten Days, Preschool Days and Extra Curricular Activities. With a bit of meal planning and room for flexibility, we tend to follow it well.
Our Schedule Details:
AIO stands for Allinonehomeschool. Although we don’t technically homeschool, I am a huge advocate for homeschooling if it works for you and creating a home environment where learning is encouraged, even if they attend school. Since my kids are only in school a few days a week, we have a few hours a day where we add to the learning.
Life Kids Bible Story is a great site that has awesome 15 min videos teaching simple sunday school type lessons.
Reading Eggs is another program we subscribe too. I am not against technology in my kids lives, but am very careful about what they are seeing and how much time they spend with screen time. I am also at a stage where I have a lot of toddlers and not enough hands or sanity to survive without it. Some moms can do it, and you amaze me! I personally am good with them enjoying an episode of Paw Patrol while I make lunch in peace!
Blanket Time is basically just a quiet time. I sit with the kids and have them do puzzles or read books while sitting on their favourite blanket. I DO NOT expect my 1.5 year old to do this, I know some moms are able to get their babies to do this, but I have a VERY active 1.5 year old and I am fine to wait till he is older to attempt this. He tends to play with toys or run around the house like a crazy man while we are sitting in the living room. I will go between chasing him and sitting down with the kids. I also, DO NOT expect my toddlers to be perfect in this scenario. They are to be as quiet as they can, and I use reminders constantly during this time as it’s a chance to learn about being quiet and sitting still, not a time to be perfect. I do use a timer and it works fairly well for a visual of time for them.
Overall, this is a schedule that works for us as it moves with the natural personalities in our home. You will note that we are home a lot. We do this to save money and my sanity. Getting out and about with four littles is not simple. I am an extravert though, so I do plan for playdates and outings, it just happens when it can and whatever was scheduled during that time gets put on the shelf for the day! We go with the flow as much as we can and enjoy life however it works for us!
Here’s to creating a routine that allows for fun and creativity, but brings order and predictability to your day!